Thursday, May 26, 2022

Put on the Full Armor of God

 Read Ephesians 6

It’s Memorial Day weekend.  It’s the time to remember those who gave their last full measure of devotion for their country.  These days we take time to remember others who serve—firefighters, first responders, and law enforcement. That’s fine, but the day itself was set aside to remember those who said, I will fight for you, and who never came home to a parade or welcome of any sort.

So, Tom gets to talk a little bit about war and combat and some memorable phrases that go with these things. We will start in World War I.

The Marines joined in the battle later than other allied combatants of World War I.  Up to that point, they had been used in small wars special missions.  Now they had just arrived at the front as the Germans were mounting a three-pronged offensive.

The Marines had barely gotten into position, digging shallow individual trenches they called “foxholes,” when the German army renewed its offensive on June 2. Demoralized French troops in the forest began falling back. One French officer, as he passed through the Marine lines, advised the Americans to join in the retreat. Capt. Lloyd Williams responded, “Retreat, hell! We just got here!” The French officer and the other French troops continued on. Soon the Marines were alone.

What the world did not know was that the Marines could hit a target at 600 yards and beyond with the new 03 Springfield rifles.  The rest of the world’s soldiers were good up to about 250 yards.  The Marines turned the battle around, and General John J. Pershing who didn’t really care for the Marines, but knew that he had a winner, ordered the Expeditionary Force to the offensive.

Again, In World War I while fighting with the 6th Marines in France against heavily fortified German positions, First Lieutenant Clifton B. Cates sent this report to his commanding officer.

I have only two men out of my company. We need support, but it is almost suicide to try and get it here as we are swept by machine-gun fire and a constant barrage is on us. I have no one on my left and only a few on my right. I WILL HOLD.

Ok, Tom’s not just going to talk about Marine Corps battles and words to remember, but he will keep us in the country of France, though at a time before our nation was conceived.

On 25 October 1415 (Saint Crispin’s Day), King Henry V of England defeated a numerically superior French force near the down of Agincourt, France. William Shakespeare would immortalize the victory in the words of the playwright attributed to King Henry.

From this day to the ending of the world,

But we in it shall be remembered-

We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;

For he to-day that sheds his blood with me

Shall be my brother; be he ne'er so vile,

This day shall gentle his condition;

And gentlemen in England now-a-bed

Shall think themselves accurs'd they were not here,

And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks

That fought with us upon Saint Crispin's day.

For he today that sheds his blood with me, shall be my brother

This section is about putting on the Full Armor of God.  It’s about battle.  It’s about combat, but you can’t draw the battle lines on a map.

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.

Before we get into the armor itself, let’s affirm where our strength in battle comes from—it is from the Lord.  Think to David when he faced Goliath.  Saul’s armor didn’t fit him.  He couldn’t more—he couldn’t fight in it.

David already knew what was going to happen. The battle belonged to the Lord.  He had his part but the battle belonged to the Lord. David did not understand the armies of Israel shaking in fear.

Who is this uncircumcised Philistine that he should defy the armies of the living God?

David’s strength was not in the armor of men.  It was in the Lord.

David said to the Philistine, “You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This day the Lord will deliver you into my hands, and I’ll strike you down and cut off your head. This very day I will give the carcasses of the Philistine army to the birds and the wild animals, and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel. All those gathered here will know that it is not by sword or spear that the Lord saves; for the battle is the Lord’s, and he will give all of you into our hands.”

You know the story.  David fell Goliath with one, well-aimed smooth stone.  Then, he rushed to the fallen body, drew the giant’s sword, and cut his head off with his own sword.

David might be what today we would call light infantry.  Modern combat has lost that concept.  Today, an infantryman carries 60 pounds on a light day and upwards of 100 pounds on most days.  It’s more if you have to dress for extreme cold weather or chemical warfare.

The armor that you are called to wear doesn’t weigh nearly so much. We are battling the forces of evil and we should be equipped much like David.  Paul uses the metaphor of the armor of his day, but our victory lies in the strength of the Lord.

But, let’s put on the armor-all of it.

The belt of truth

The breastplate of righteousness

Feet fitted—these are your combat boots—with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace

The shield of faith that extinguishes the arrows of the enemy

The helmet of salvation

The sword of the Spirit which is the word of God.

We are equipped with truth, righteousness, the gospel, faith, salvation, and the word of God.  We are well equipped for the fight—for the battles ahead.

We are not armored to fight flesh and blood but the spiritual forces of the Evil One that work both on earth and in the heavenly realms.  These forces want to fight in the battlefield of our minds.  They want to engage our sinful human nature.

In the examples of earthly combat, did you note where they took place?  They were all in France.  That’s over there for the American World War I examples and across the Channel for the King of England.  That’s where we like to fight our battles—over there.

Think how gut-wrenching the 9-11 attacks were to those of you who were alive then.  They were perhaps more devastating than Pearl Harbor was to our grandparents.  Our enemies had struck the mainland on that September day.

We want to fight our enemies on their territory.  We don’t want them here, where we are on the defensive. But in our battle against evil, the enemy has penetrated our lines.  They're in the wire. The enemy is within our minds. 

Elsewhere, Paul counseled us to take every thought captive and make it obedient to Christ Jesus.

We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.

On most days, I charge you to love your neighbor.  Let everyone know that you follow Jesus, not by the VBS or camp tee shirt that your wear, but by your love.  They will know that we are his disciples by our love.

But on every day, we are to suit up for combat with evil.  We may not engage any form of evil for the entire day but we are ready.  It’s too late to go put on your gear once you are under attack.  You must show up ready.

There are no time-outs in combat.  Sure, truces are called from time to time but consider how many combatants are still killed during a truce.  There are no time-outs. You must come prepared to fight.  We are not fighting the axis forces or a Philistine giant, but the forces of evil that exist in the spiritual realm.  Sometimes, we have to fight them on our home turf—in our minds.

We must be able to make our stand where the enemy brings the fight to us.  We must be able to say, I will hold.

So, we must be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.  Our part is to put on the full armor of God.

We are to be equipped with truth, righteousness, the gospel, faith, salvation, and the word of God.  We are well equipped for the fight—for the battles ahead.

And Paul adds that we are to pray for each other.  We have our individual battles, but battles are won by mutual support.  I pray for you and you pray for me.

Suit up and fight not only for yourself but for one another.  The victory is already won in the blood of Christ Jesus, but we still have battles to fight.

Gear up.


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